Fleming. Valentine Fleming.

Major Valentine Fleming D.S.O.

Think Back and Remember

A Scottish Major, serving with “C” Squadron of the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, Valentine Fleming served during the Great War being twice mentioned in despatches and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, announced 4 June 1917 in the Supplement to the London Gazette . Fleming was a Conservative Member of Parliament representing Henley from 1910 until his death on the Western Front, May 20, 1917. Major Fleming lost his life near Gillemont Farm, Picardy, France and is buried at Templeux-le-Gueard, British Cemetery. He was 35 years of age.

Born in Newport-on-Tay, Fife, Scotland in 1882 Valentine Fleming was the son of the founder of the merchant bank, “Robert Fleming & Co.”. Left to mourn his loss were his wife, Evelyn and their children Peter, Ian, Michael and Richard. Evelyn would later have a daughter, named Amaryllis, in 1923 with the British Artist, Augustus John.

During the Second World War Peter, a member of the Grenadier Guards served behind enemy lines. Ian became involved in intelligence work and sadly Michael was killed serving with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The Ox & Bucks) October 1, 1940 and is buried at Lille Southern Cemetery, France. Similarly to his father, Michael was mentioned in despatches on three occasions. No other service details are known of the others members of Valentine Fleming’s family.

Today when one walks into the Imperial War Museum they can visit an exhibit called, The Secret War. Here one can learn the history of the British secret service, it origins, its different departments, the characters and legends of the service as well as the tales of their daring-do. The exhibit’s timeline begins prior to the Great War and takes the visitor on a journey to the modern era. Cases are filled with the tools of the trade, forged documents, secret gadgets such as briefcase radios, compass buttons, weapons and artifacts from the world of espionage and counter-espionage.

“The Secret War”. “Do not mistake spy fiction for reality…”

However, as one who enjoys reminiscing about his youth in the 1960s I really enjoy the first exhibit case of The Secret War that includes movie posters, novels and several toys produced for children to emulate their heroes. If I recall correctly there is everything from Action Man to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and so on. Suddenly I could be transported into that world of secrets and far off places, take on SPECTRE and “drive” my Corgi toy Aston Martin with all the gadgets of Q…Did I say SPECTRE, Aston Martin, Q?

Oh that’s right Fleming. Valentine Fleming…..Fleming. Ian Fleming…..Bond. James Bond! Happy 50th Anniversary 007!

Today, October 5, 2012, marks the day when the world was first introduced to James Bond, as played by Sean Connery, with the 1962 release of Dr. No. Thank you Ian Fleming, creator of “Bond. James Bond”, that character who continues to appear on screen in exotic locations all over the world; by the way the next installment Skyfall takes us to China in theatres November 9, 2012 (oh and Adele sings the title track!).

But despite this excitement think back and remember Ian Fleming’s father, Valentine Fleming D.S.O., for without Valentine there would have been no Ian, no experience, no writing, no character. Ian Fleming was almost nine years old when his father was lost to him.

…and one last connection…..earlier I mentioned the British artist Augustus John…..here is one of his paintings…

A soldier of the 16th Battalion (The Canadian Scottish).

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


One Response to “Fleming. Valentine Fleming.”

  1. pferguson pferguson says:

    From Sir Martin Gilbert CBE, FRSL, “The First World War: A Complete History”, 1994.

    Quotation from a letter written by Valentine Fleming to his good friend Winston Churchill.

    “First and most impressive,’ Fleming wrote, ‘the absolutely indescribable ravages of modern artillery fire, not upon all men, animals and buildings within its zone, but upon the very face of nature itself. Imagine a broad belt, ten miles or so in width, stretching from the Channel to the German frontier near Basle, which is positively littered with the bodies of men and sacrificed with their nude grave; in which farms, villages, and cottages are shapeless heaps of blackened masonry; in which fields, roads and trees are pinned and torn and twisted by shells and disfigured by dead horses, cattle, sheep and goats, scatted in every attitude of repulsive distortion and dismemberment.’ In this zone both day and night were made ‘hideous by the incessant crash and whistle and roar of every sort of projectile, by the piteous calls of animals of all sorts, abandoned, starved, perhaps wounded’.

    Along this ‘terrain of death’ stretched two more or less parallel lines of trenches, some 200 or 1,000 yards apart. In these trenches, Fleming explained, ‘crouch lines of men, in brown or grey or blue, coated with mud, unshaven hollow-eyed with the continual strain, unable to reply to the everlasting run of shells hurled at them from three, four, five or more miles away, and positively welcoming an infantry attack from one side or the other as a chance of meeting and matching themselves against human assailants and not against invisible, irresistible machines, the outcome of an ingenuity which even you and I would be in agreement in considering unproductive from every point of view’. Fleming ended his letter, “It’s going to be a long war in spite of the fact that on both sides every single man in it wants it stopped at once.”

Leave a Reply